Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 03 November 2010
For the first time in years the Quinera River at Bonza Bay has flowed into the sea, and although environmentalists are concerned about claims of people helping nature along, locals are happy the mouth has opened.
While some residents say the recent heavy rains caused the river to flow into the sea, others claim a trench was dug.
“I think it is awesome that the river opened up because all the bottles and dirt from the river have been washed away,” said resident Antoinette Faye, who runs a kiosk at Bonza Bay. The river started opening up last week on Thursday, she added.
She could not confirm if this was caused by nature entirely, but said the heavy rains resulted in an overflow that covered the boardwalk.
“It went up by about half a metre on the boardwalk in the deepest section for about two to three days. People were dodging eels because they thought they were sea snakes,” said Faye.
“I think it’s a good thing. It needed to open up because of all the sewage and dirt , which needed to be washed out,” said Beacon Bay resident Judy Sanan.
Dan Nel, who fishes at Bonza Bay frequently, said the last time the river opened up was about two years ago.
“It should happen naturally. I saw someone dig it open last week. If they hadn’t I think it would have broken on its own by the next day,” said Nel, adding that the reason for human intervention may have been the river’s overflow. “People were afraid the water could go into the car park.”
However, an environmental consultant with the Coastal Environmental Service, Greer Hawley, said any human intervention on an estuary required an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.
“Anything within 100m from the high water mark of the ocean, within an estuary or within 32m of a watercourse, needs an EIA process according to the National Environmental Management Act, EIA regulations (2010),” he said, adding that estuaries were “high biodiversity and key sensitive areas”.
“Fauna and flora compositions within this area are distinctive because they can survive in both salt and fresh water. This is what makes these environments so special. Any disturbance within these ecosystems can impact on the plant and animal communities.”
Hawley added that a stormwater management plan was needed for Bonza Bay to prevent residents taking matters into their own hands. “People will continue to struggle with stormwater issues while sea levels rise as a result of climate change.”
BCM said the open mouth was reported to them on Monday afternoon.
“We will investigate, and if we find it to be man-made we will act on it and recommend penalties,” said spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya.
By: Lois Moodley